19 October 2021
Find out more about Master Stamp Engraver Czeslaw Slania, the most productive stamp artist of all time, and one of the most well known stamp artists in history.
Czeslaw Slania is the most productive stamp artist of all time as he designed and/or engraved 1,080 unique motifs that appeared on a total of 1,547 stamps issued by 32 postal administrations, writes Armagan Ozdinc. Find out more about Slania with our ten facts…
Czeslaw Slania moved from Poland to Sweden in 1956
In spite of his well-paid and prestigious job at the Polish State Printing House, Slania was uncomfortable with the communist regime of Poland. He decided to flee from Poland and in August 1956, he embarked on a cruise liner bound to Sweden. He never returned from that trip.
He worked hard before becoming known for his engraving skills
During those first years Slania’s life in Sweden was extremely difficult. He entered Sweden in a refugee status and worked in some low-paying jobs, including washing dishes. He supplemented his low wage with proceeds from selling pieces of his artwork that he had brought from Poland.
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He created vignettes to showcase his talent
As Slania did not have a permanent job as an engraver in those early years, he created stamp-like engraved vignettes portraying celebrities from the world of boxing and film, such as Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot.
His first stamp was issued in 1960
In the autumn of 1959, he received a call from Sweden Post and his first stamp for Sweden was issued on 18 February 1960. It was the portrait of Anders Zorn, a Swedish painter.
He loved recreating classic works of art
Slania enjoyed rendering paintings, such as his interpretation of the Lady with a Veil by Swedish portrait painter Alexander Roslin (1786). The engraving featured on a 1972 Swedish stamp.
Slania's admirers included royalty
Slania’s affiliation with Monaco started in 1972 at the request of Prince Rainer III, the ruling monarch of Monaco at the time and an ardent philatelist. Over the years, Slania developed a close relationship with Prince Rainer III who became a big lover of his artwork.
He created artwork for British stamps
Slania engraved 24 unique stamp motifs for Great Britain, issued between 1982 and 2002, including a 1984 set marking the bicentenary of the first British mail coach run. The set consist of five stamps depicting different mail coach runs between 1784 and 1831.
He also engraved banknotes
As his outstanding engraving work was being recognised around the world, he also began to receive commissions for banknote engraving. During his career, he engraved 42 unique banknote motifs for ten countries.
Slania returned to Poland before his death
Slania returned to Poland late in life to be cared by his sister as his health started to become fragile. He passed away on 17 March 2005 in Krakow and was buried there.
His final stamp featured Elvis Presley
His final stamp was for Sweden and was the portrait of Elvis Presley issued on 2 October 2004. Sadly his health deteriorated while working on this portrait and he was not able to complete the work. The large part of the engraving was therefore completed by Piotr Naszarkowski, another Polish engraver.
Slania shall always be remembered and recognized as one of the greatest stamp engravers.